Letter from Samuel A. Allibone to Charles Burr Todd
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- Todd, Charles Burr, 1849-, Correspondence, Allibone, S. A. (Samuel Austin), 1816-1889, Abernethy Manuscripts Collection
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LET NO BOOK LACK AN ALPHABETICAL INDEX. "Scaliger devoted ten months to compiling an Index to GRUTER's Inscriptiones Antiquæ ; BAILLET not only eulogized the Index to ANTONIO's Bibliotheca, but made an Index of 35 volumes to the books of M. DE LAMOIGNON's Library ; LE CLERC considered Index making a vocation too high for every writer ; MATTAIRE made Indexes, and lauds the art in a Latin thesis. "An Index is a necessary implement and no impediment of a book except in the same sense wherein the Carriages of an Army are term Impediments. Without this, a large Author is but a labyrinth, without a clue to firect the Reader therein." – Ful- ler's Worthies. "If a book has no Index or good Table of Contents, 'tis very useful to make one as you are reading it" – Dr. Watts. True but an author has no right to make me suffer for his negligence or in- dolence. "I wish you would add an Index rerum, that when the reader recollects any in- cident, he may easily find it, which at present he cannot do, unless he knows in which volume it is told" – Dr. Johnson to Richardson. And Richardson was sensible enough to profit by the advice. "Books born mostly of Chaos – which want all things, even an index – are a painful object.... He write big books wanting in almost every quality, and does not give even an Index to them." – Carlyle's Frederick the Great. vol. I. The value of anything, it has been observed is best known by the want of it. Agreeably to this idea, we, who have often experienced great inconveuiences from the want of indexes, entertain the highest sense of their worth and importance. We know that in the construction of a good Index, there is far more scope for the exercise of judgement and abilities than is commonly supposed. We feel the merit of the compiler of such an Index, and we are even ready to testify our thankfulness for his exertions." – London Monthly Review. "Those authors, whose subjects require them to be voluminous will do well, if they would be remembered as long as possible, not to omit a duty which authors, in general, but especially modern authors are too apt to neglect –– that of appending to their works a good index. For their deplorable deficiencies in this respect, Professor DE MORGAN, speaking of historians, assigns the curious reason, 'that they think to oblige their readers to go through them from beginning to end, by making this the only way of coming at the contents of their volumes. They are much mistaken, and they might learn from their own mode of dealing with the writing of others how their own will be used in turn.' We think that the unwise indolence of authors has probably had much more to with the matter than the reason thus humourously as- signed; but the fact which he proceeds to mention is incontestably true. 'No writer (of this class) is so much read as the one who makes a good index or so much cited.'" – Henry Rogers: The Vanity and Glory of Literature. Let Lord Campbell's proposition be adopted: "So essential," remarks his Lord- ship, "did I consider an index to be to every book that I proposed to bring a Bill into Parliament to deprive an authro [or publisher, we add,] who publishes a book without an Index of the privilege of copyright; and, moreover, to subject him, for his offence, to a pecuniary penalty." Preface to Vol. III of Chief Justices. S.A.A M-2 2 Allibone (S. Austin). American bibliographer, author of "A Dictionary of English Literature." A. L. S., 1p. 8vo, 1886, on literary matters, re- ferring to his special line of work. .75 Lenox Library Oct. 30. 1886 Dear Sir: In re Dwight, Theodore, I find in Catalogue of Phila Library, p. 1489, the following: The Roman Republic of 1849; with accounts of the Inquisition and the siege of Rome; and Biographical sketches. By Theodore Dwight, New York, 1851, 12. My second entry, which you quote, is correct: but the Dr. Dwight is Serono A Dwight the subject of the preceding notice - not Dr. Timothy. The vol. was published Boston, 1851 has a sketch of S.E. Dwight, D.D. see Sprague; Trinitarian Congregation IV, 629. I am, dear Sir, faithfully yours, Charles Burr Todd, Esq. S. Austin Allibone
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